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Cascade Valley Hospital, Sea Mar offer whooping cough vaccine

SNOHOMISH COUNTY — With reported cases of whooping cough reaching what Snohomish Health District officials have deemed epidemic numbers, area health agencies are taking steps to help protect the public.

"Marysville has been hit particularly hard," said Suzanne Pate, public information officer for the Snohomish Health District, whose numbers showed Marysville leading the way in confirmed cases of whooping cough — 58 for the year as of March 15, out of the 178 confirmed cases reported to the Snohomish Health District during that time — while Arlington tied with Lake Stevens for second place, with 22 confirmed cases reported for each of the two towns. Everett came in third with 20 cases.

While one of Arlington's cases was a child aged 1-4 years, and two others were adults older than 18, the remaining 19 cases were children aged 5-17 years. Marysville showed a similar distribution of cases, with six affecting adults older than 18, three diagnoses of whooping cough in children aged 1-4 years, and only one confirmed case of an infant less than a year old contracting the illness, while the remaining 48 reports were for children aged 5-17 years. Last year, 224 confirmed cases were reported to the Snohomish Health District, including one infant death.

Dr. Gary Goldbaum, health officer for the Snohomish Health District, nonetheless believes whooping cough in Snohomish County is not limited by age groups or geography, since a combination of factors could cause more reports in certain cities, including physicians who might be more alert to the signs of whooping cough in those areas. Most cases of whooping cough go unreported, especially in adults.

Cascade Valley Hospital in Arlington will be giving commuters a chance to receive free whooping cough shots after work on Wednesday, April 4, between 4-8 p.m. in the Rainier Room at 330 S. Stillaguamish Ave. Walk-ins are welcome, but appointments are recommended by calling 425-339-8694 between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 3.

The Snohomish Health District will provide about 250 adult doses of whooping cough vaccine, made available through the AmeriCares patient assistance program and a $5,000 grant from the Cascade Valley Hospital Foundation. Three previous free clinics in Snohomish County vaccinated a total of 756 adults.

Snohomish Health District officials encourage all adults, especially those who have contact with infants, to get vaccinated. People of all ages need booster shots to maintain their immunity, and most adults aren't up to date on their shots. A single shot known as "Tdap" prevents not only whooping cough, but also tetanus and diphtheria.

Children's vaccines are free or low-cost, while vaccines for adults may be covered by private health insurance or Medicaid, or offered at reduced cost at the Sea Mar Community Health Center in Marysville, at 9710 State Ave., as well as the Community Health Centers and Snohomish Health District clinic in Everett, the latter based on income.

You can download vaccine information sheets and consent forms in English and Spanish at the Snohomish Health District's website, at www.snohd.org.

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